Monday 4 March 2013


Forget having hundreds of friends on Facebook, we need just five trusted people in our lives, researchers say. To cope with modern life we want an agony aunt, an emotional support, someone good with money, a practically minded person and a colleague we can ask for work advice.

The research shows a minimum of five friends and colleagues are now required to share out our problems and get useful advice from. Top of the list is an agony aunt figure we can tell our problems to, followed by a loved one who will put an arm around us and provide emotional support.
The third most in demand is someone to help us out with financial matters and advise us how to save money. And fourth is a knowledgeable friend or family member we can turn to for advice on life’s practical matters.
The fifth most important is a colleague we can look to for help and advice in the workplace, according to the study by Nationwide Building Society. However, the research reveals that despite the average Facebook user having 190 friends, 32 per cent of Brits still don’t feel they really have anyone on their side.
Men are twice as likely to feel they have no one to turn to (42 per cent) in their daily lives as women (23 per cent). And perhaps giving the lie to the notion those in the north are friendlier, people (73 per cent) in the South East of England feel more supported than any other region.
Sadly, it seems that age diminishes our support network with Brits over the age of 55 feeling they have fewer trusted friends (40 per cent) than any other age group. The research shows our main needs are for someone to listen to our problems (23 per cent), to provide emotional support (18 per cent) and to ease the pressures of everyday life (18 per cent).

The current economic climate is also preying on people’s minds, with money issues now one of the main reasons people feel the need for a support network. One in six (16 per cent) say they need someone to help them save money or get rid of debt, according to the study of 1,047 UK adults. Meanwhile, 15 per cent confide in work colleagues and one in 20 (5 per cent) look to their boss for help and advice.
The research shows support at work is more important to men, with 11 per looking for advice in this area compared to just five per cent of women. In contrast, 15 per cent of women say they need someone they can turn to to help them manage family relationships.
Susan Quilliam, relationship psychologist, said: 'No matter how strong and independent people are, we all need someone to lean on at key stages in life. 'It could be an ear to listen, a wise head to provide some advice, a shoulder to cry on or someone who is completely removed from the situation you are in. 'Strong support networks are essential to help alleviate the pressures of life, decision-making and ultimately, stop people from feeling like they are on their own.
'It might be a life-changing decision, a topic you find hard to talk about, an everyday rant or a light-hearted chat about something you consider trivial - it doesn’t matter. 'Talking to different people and seeking advice can provide fresh perspectives, impartial points-of-view and help you think more laterally about a subject or stage in your life.
'No-one should or can make decisions for you but the knowledge that someone else is on your side can make all the difference when it comes to your wellbeing.'
Office worker Simon Turner, 27, of London, said: 'Although I do have someone I would call a best friend I find it’s important to have several people I can turn to for different things. 'My best mate is not the person I go to when I want advice about money or jobs and I have a female friend who is great for relationship advice.'
Andy McQueen, Marketing Director at Nationwide, said: 'When times are good, people tend to worry whether they are on the right career path or whether they are achieving long-held ambitions. 'But when times are bad - such as when the economy is suffering - people are forced to worry about everyday essentials, like whether they can cover their bills.'

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